DMV Saves Paper – Will Only Include Return Envelopes in Vehicle Registration Renewal Notices for Californians Most Likely to Use Them

Contact:  Office of Public Affairs
2415 First Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 657–6437 |

June 21, 2022

Sacramento – California vehicle owners may not receive a return envelope in their vehicle registration renewal notices in a paper saving action announced today by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

With more Californians renewing their registration online as part of the DMV’s ongoing customer-focused digital transformation and to reduce paper waste, the DMV will only send return envelopes to customers who are likely to use them – those whose most recent payments were made by mail. This action, coinciding with vehicle registrations with September expiration dates, will save more than 2 million envelopes a month.

“We have made it easier for customers to renew their registration online 24/7, which is the most efficient way to renew,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “Our customers can renew their vehicle registration through many convenient service channels. Because of the many alternatives to mail, 80% of all return envelopes currently go unused. Not including an envelope that wouldn’t get used is another example of how the DMV is focused on data-driven solutions to improve the customer experience and eliminate unnecessary waste.”

Californians continue to have many options to stay current with their vehicle registration. Online is the simplest and most efficient means to pay registration renewal fees. Renewals at can be completed in minutes. Customers can receive their license plate sticker and registration card on the spot using a self-service kiosk. Vehicle registration payments can also be made over the phone, at business partner locations and in DMV offices (credit card fees apply). Renewals by mail also take longer to process.

Additional penalties and fees may apply if the registration renewal is not completed on time.

There are nearly 37 million registered vehicles (including motorcycles) in California. In March 2022, the DMV processed 2.9 million vehicle registration renewals, with 38% (nearly 1.1 million) coming online, followed by 329,000 at field offices and 275,000 at kiosks. Vehicle registration renewals are also made at business partner locations and through the mail.

Additionally, the DMV was recently notified by its supplier that return envelopes for vehicle registration renewals are in short supply as part of a worldwide paper shortage.

In June 2021, the DMV began offering customers the opportunity to go paperless and opt in to receive their driver’s license renewal notice by email rather than traditional mail. The DMV began offering the email option for vehicle registration renewal notices in January 2022.

DMV customers are encouraged to go online at to opt in to receive email notices.

In April 2021, the DMV began accepting digital signatures for vehicle purchases, allowing Californians to have a completely paperless car buying experience.

Reducing paper in DMV transactions has substantial environmental benefits. For example, the DMV saves a ton of paper each day by allowing customers to digitally sign their driver’s license application rather than printing out the form.

Most DMV tasks do not require an office visit. The DMV encourages customers to use its online services and other service channels to complete transactions, including eligible driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals. Customers can also use the Service Advisor on the DMV website to learn their options to complete DMV tasks.


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